12 string guitar

Because the 12 string guitar is not played like a six-string.

The rich sound of the twelve string guitar has inspired and fascinated generations of musicians.
Yet this instrument possesses an asset few are really aware of, which gives it remarkable not to- say spectacular capabilities. Of its six supplementary strings, four are tuned an octave above their fellow bass-strings (the other two extra treble strings are double-ups).

Each pair of strings is called a “course”. Remember this!  If we consider the octave-above strings as strings in their own right, we find ourselves with a palette of ten strings each with its own tuning and consequently a much broader range of possibilities. This is where the twelve string reveals all its potential.

Apart from the evident musical scope this opens up, seeing the twelve string guitar in this manner may well convince those who have found playing it so tiring that they just tidied it away someplace, to get it out again!

Playing a twelve string like a six string is exhausting, particularly for the left hand. But if we accept the special logic of the instrument, it becomes easier to handle, naturally.

Most of the information on this website has been drawn from the work that Michel has done over the years, explaining – for the first time – how a 12 string guitar works, and developing a method for learning how to play the 12 string guitar as it was intended.


The 12 string guitar in contemporary music.

Many performers play the 12-string guitar primarily as a rhythm instrument due to the addition of 6 more strings, this is one way of approaching the instrument. But  to get the most out of the twelve string guitar, we will show you another logic to it, one that will make playing easier and more satisfying.

12 string guitar players    (Source : Wikipedia)

  • Reverend Gary Davis
  • Lead Belly (Hudie Ledbetter)
  • Blind Willie McTell
  • Robbie Basho
  • Leo Kottke
  • Harvey Reid
  • Pete Seeger with The Weavers
  • Gordon Giltrap
  • Tim Buckley
  • Paul Simon
  • John Butler
  • Philip Catherine
  • Larry Coryell of Eleventh House
  • John McLaughlin
  • Pat Metheny
  • Ralph Towner of Oregon
  • Bob Marley
  • John Farrar of The Strangers and The Shadows
  • Don Felder of The Eagles
  • Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
  • Roger McGuinn of the Byrds
  • Hilton Valentine of The Animals
  • Anthony Phillips of Genesis
  • Guthrie Thomas
  • George Harrison of The Beatles
  • John Lennon of The Beatles
  • Roger McGuinn of The Byrds
  • Hilton Valentine of The Animals
  • Tom Petty
  • John McNally of The Searchers
  • Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys
  • Elvis Presley
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Pete Townshend of The Who
  • Mark Knopfler
  • Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison of The Velvet Underground
  • Gene Clark of The Byrds
  • Jeff Buckley
  • Chris Hatfield of Fugue Plane
  • The Edge of U2
  • Don Felder of The Eagles
  • Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule and The Allman Brothers Band
  • John McLaughlin of Mahavishnu Orchestra
  • Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine
  • Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin,
  • Slash of Guns N’ Roses

Leo Kottke, Michel Gentils, Chris Proctor, and Gordon Giltrap are masters in the finger-picking style on the 12-string guitar, as each is capable of playing all 12 strings as individual strings.

We are going to examine the way the 12 string guitar is intended to be played. This logic already existed with the baroque guitar played in Europe and was highlighted during the American revival.